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Delftware Wonderware exhibition Gemeentemuseum The HagueThe Gemeentemuseum in The Hague has an important collection of Dutch Delftware and we have been fortunate to partner with them in the past years. In the magnificent permanent exhibition ‘Delftware Wonderware’ the history of Dutch Delftware is told with many objects. It comprises over 235 items, which give a unique view of the Delftware industry through the ages in a dynamic presentation. As interesting and fascinating as Delftware was back in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the exhibition also shows how contemporary designers are still inspired by the Delftware of yesteryear.

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag Exterieur
Obelisk vase Delftware

Inv. no. BK-2004-4-A

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses an important collection of Dutch Delftware. Part of this collection is on view in a gallery dedicated to King Willem III. Especially his wife, Mary, was a great admirer of Dutch Delftware and the orders of her and her court were an important stimulus for the Delft faience industry. 

Dishes, jugs, candle sticks and so many other objects from various Delft factories are on show in this gallery. Mary was fond of gardening and to display her flowers and plants, she ordered large urns, vases and flower pyramids. Of the latter a wonderful large pair is exhibited. Inspired by a Chinese porcelain tower, these obelisk shaped flower holders have a Chinese decoration. But at a closer look, one sees also the western influence, which can be found among others in the recumbent lions that support the bases with a ball or terrestrial globe clamped between their forepaws, the volutes with sphinxes on top of the base with the obelisk rising on top of them, and the crowning finial of a classical female bust, possibly Queen Mary herself.

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Exterior
Delftware bird cage

Inv. no. Ev.235

One of the greatest Dutch Delftware collections is housed in Museum Kunst & Geschiedenis, which is part of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, Belgium. The historic building, which was erected by former Belgian King Leopold II, is dedicated to National Archaeology, Antiquity, Non-European Civilizations and European Decorative Arts. The Dutch Delftware collection, bequeathed by A. Evenepoel in 1911, consists of more than 1500 pieces, ranging from the early chinoiserie blue and white style objects to the colourful eighteenth-century European pieces.

An important part of the collection of the Museum Kunst & Geschiedenis is a selection of rare black and brown Delftware. Furthermore it contains lovely plates and plaquettes by Frederik van Frytom and a wonderful vase by Hoppesteyn. Another absolute highlight is the Delft bird cage, decorated in an expanded Imari-style palette, of which the bottom has the most beautiful decoration.

Museum Kunst & Geschiedenis Exterieur
Cashmere Delftware vases

Inv. no. 2004.26.39

An interesting Dutch Delftware collection in the United States of America is in the located in Hartford, Connecticut. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art was founded by Daniel Wadsworth in 1842 and opened two years later with just seventy-nine paintings and three sculptures. Today the collection exceeds 50,000 works of art, comprising not only European and American Decorative Arts, but also European, American and Contemporary Art. The ceramics collection contains a large number of Dutch Delftware, mostly a bequest from the Richard and Georgette A. Koopman collection. The pieces range from seventeenth-century ewers and dishes to eighteenth-century figures of cows, plaques and flower holders.

Beautiful is this eighteenth-century pair of flower holders, executed in a so-called ‘cashmire’ palette, which exists out of the colors blue, green and iron-red. The vases are formed in the shape of a fan, with two rows of spouts and handles in the shape of birds. Polychrome colored flower holders are in the minority, since the production of polychrome wares set in after the fashion of the flower holders with spouts reached its height.

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum Exterior

Originally intended to accommodate the gentlemen’s society for repatriated sugar planters, the Arnhem museum was founded in 1856 with the idea to create a ‘Local memorabilia related to history and art’. The museum has the great honor to exhibit the impressive collection of the Arnhem nobleman baron Willem Frederik Karel van Verschuer (1845-1922), one of the most important 19th-century Delftware collectors.

Amongst the 800 pieces that are presented, no less than 300 are marked. Not only the collection shows what were the interests of a typical 19th-century collector, it also has the particularity to give a great understanding of the Delftware evolution, from its beginning to its decline. We are delighted to admire such a wide variety of objets: beautiful tableware like a magnificent bottle cooler made by De Grieksche A (1686-1701), miniatures and figurines, numerous home objects including an extremely precious black Delft tea caddy (1700-1725), plaques and many more.

Delftware shoesBy its didactic scenography, the Museum of Arnhem gives us the opportunity to do a big jump in the past and help us to understand the whys and wherefores of Delftware history, and consequently some essential components of the Dutch culture.  At the end of the visit the influence of blue and white Chinese export porcelain, the Dutch 17th-century tableware conventions, or the predominant pride of place ceramic took in the home of wealthy citizens, noblemen and royalty are no longer a secret.

Museum Arnhem Exterior

Located in the east of the Netherlands, in Apeldoorn, the palace Het Loo served as a Royal Residence for more than three hundred years. The palace was built in 1684 under the demand of stadholder William III (1650-1702) and his wife, Queen Mary II (1662-1694) and served as a summer residence where the King could hunt and entertain his noble guests. This splendorous residence shows William and Mary’s passion for gardening, architecture and interior design. 

As soon as Mary II moved to the Netherlands, she immediately demonstrated a deep interest in her country of adoption. In order to decorate both her interior and garden, she commissioned one of the most talented Delft potteries, De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory. Archaeological excavations in the garden next to her apartment enabled researchers to find fragments of exceptional objects, such as tiered flower vases, jardinieres and flower baskets. These finds show that the Queen played a pivotal role in the conception and in the international development of Delftware from the last quarter of the 17th century. 

Melkkeldertje Paleis Het LooIn 1970, the decision was taken to convert the palace Het Loo into a museum. Although many of the original Delftware pieces have disappeared today, the museum – by assembling a permanent collection of Delftware, and through the temporary exhibitions – is striving to give the visitor a complete picture of the historical interiors and gardens of the palace. Thereby, the museum took the initiative to illustrate the story of Queen Mary’s love for both Delftware and the gardens by displaying 45 reproductions of Delftware jardinieres in the palace gardens.

Paleis Het Loo Apeldoorn Exterior

Delftware collection Hampton Court PalaceWith more than 200,000 visitors a year, Hampton Court Palace is one of the most popular attractions in Greater London. Formerly a medieval manor, the palace was acquired in 1518 by Thomas Wolsey, cardinal and first minister of the King Henri VIII. A year after, he ordered its rebuilding, making it the most luxurious palace of England. He enjoyed his sumptuous new residence only for a very short time. In fact, in 1529, Wolsey lost the favor of the king who confiscated the palace. Until 1738, Hampton Court Palace has welcomed several British monarchs. In 1689, Queen Mary II and William III relocated from Het Loo Palace to the Hampton court. The royal couple undertook a massive restructuring and furnished the newly enlarged palace.

Queen Mary had an unequalled passion for Delftware, to such an extend that she has long been viewed as a patron for Delftware. While visiting the palace, Delftware amateurs will be delighted to discover that Mary used to display most of her magnificent collection in her own pavilion, the ‘Water Gallery’. This place was intended as a retreat during the reconstruction of her apartments. Adjoining the Water Gallery was also the ‘Delftware closet’, a room entirely dedicated to her amazing Delftware collection. Unfortunately, the Water Gallery does not exist anymore.

The Queen’s new apartments have been achieved just after her death. It is there that resides today some of the most magnificent Delftware pieces that are known. For example the pair of blue and white large ewers and stands that she commissioned to Adrianus Kocx, the owner of De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory from 1686 to 1701.

Exterior Hampton Court Palace

Chatsworth House interiorThe Chatsworth House is a beautiful estate located in Bakewell in the United Kingdom, and has been the home of the Cavendish family for almost 500 years. Sir William Cavendish, an English nobleman, politician, and courtier, purchased the manor in 1549. With his wife, Bess of Hardwick, they began the construction of the house. Alterations were made until the end of the seventeenth century.  

William Cavendish, 4th Earl of Devonshire and later 1st Duke of Devonshire (1640–1707), renovated the house to include new family rooms and a magnificent suite of State Apartments that were intended for a Royal Visit from William and Mary. William Cavendish was a strong supporter of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 and was also one of the ‘Immortal Seven’, a group of English noblemen who signed the invitation to William of Orange and his wife Mary to accept the throne in place of Mary’s father, James II.

To show his loyalty toward the couple, Cavendish decorated the house with magnificent Delftware objects. As we know, Queen Mary had developed a passion for Delftware during her years in Holland and continued to ensure the patronage of Delft potters even after she moved to Hampton Court. The English nobility would proclaim their allegiance to the royal couple by adopting the same tastes. Consequently, a substantial number of flower vases were acquired by the 4th Earl of Devonshire.

Several of the exceptional Delft pieces acquired by Cavendish are still on view at Chatsworth today. One of the absolute highlights is a pair of pyramidal flower holders marked AK for Adrianus Kocx, the owner of De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory from 1686 to 1701. The subject matter of the pyramids fits within the decorative scheme of the 1st Duke’s palace, which reflects his Protestant faith and devotion to the court.

View Of Chatsworth House
Period room Museum Willet-Holthuysen

Caro Bonink Amsterdam Museum, CC BY-NC 2.0 via

The Museum Willet-Holthuysen is located in a double-fronted townhouse on one of the most beautiful canals in Amsterdam. The home was built in 1687 towards the end of Amsterdam’s Golden Age, and  was purchased by the wealthy Holthuysen family in 1855. Later in the 1850s, Louisa Holthuysen inherited the family home and its contents after the death of her parents. Louisa lived in the canal-side house with her pets, lady’s companion and the rest of her staff until 1861, when she married Abraham Willet. Together, they redecorated the house in the prevailing French fashion, sparing no expense or effort.

Both Abraham and Louisa were passionate about art and built up a sizable collection using Louisa’s fortune. Their varied collection included Venetian glass, silver, German porcelain, and contemporary Dutch and French paintings, of which Louisa preferred. Abraham also collected weapons, rare art history books, photos and prints. His collection of arts and crafts was particularly significant, receiving acclaim even during his lifetime. Abraham died in 1895, and Louisa outlived him by a few years. Before her death, she bequeathed the house, its valuable contents and her husband’s extensive art collection to the City of Amsterdam. The following year, the doors were opened and the final wishes of the former lady of the house were fulfilled; her beloved home was transformed into a museum named after herself and her husband.

Their collection is displayed in splendid eighteenth and nineteenth-century period rooms, which bear witness to the Willet-Holthuysen’s lifestyle. The collection houses a few Delftware objects, such as a blue and white garniture, a blue and white cuspidor made at De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Axe) factory, a polychrome milk jug in the shape of a monkey and a delicately painted pair of polychrome shoes.

Museum Willet-Holthuysen Amsterdam

In 1866, the Patriotische Gesellschaft founded The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (MKG) in Hamburg, Germany. The institution was initially formed as a repository of both historical and contemporary examples of design to inspire producers of arts and crafts and industrial designers. Later in the first half of the twentieth century, the museum expanded to include outstanding artifacts from 4,000 years of cultural history.  

Today, the MKG continues this mission with its collection of over 500,000 objects, from art, sculpture, textiles, graphic design, fashion and musical instruments. Further, it houses one of the largest collections of ceramics and porcelain in Germany, totaling nearly 11,000 objects from antiquity to the present. The culturally diverse group of ceramics and porcelain showcase a variety of uses and types, and include objects from Meissen and Höchst, imperial porcelain from China and ceramics made by famous artists, such as Pablo Picasso. The collection offers an insight into the long history of the production of material and technical progresses. 

The ceramic collection also houses a wonderful Dutch Delftware object: a blue and white bowl-shaped flower vase with cover. Marked for Adrianus Kocx of De Grieksche A factory, it was produced at the end of the seventeenth century. The Delft potters developed many different shapes of flower vases and the earliest versions consisted of a fluted tank on a base with two handles, rather similar to the present vase. Although it is an early flower vase, it is distinctively modeled and painted in the fine manner characteristically seen under Adrianus Kocx’ ownership. The bowl and cover are delicately painted with hunting scenes. The ten spouts along the side of the cover resemble open-mouth monstrous heads, which together with the open-mouthed dragon or phoenix-shaped handles, gives the vase an exotic character that would have appealed to the prevailing tastes.

The Museum Für Kunst Und Gewerbe Exterior

The Uppark House is a seventeenth century home located in West-Sussex England. The history of the site first began in the fourteenth century with the creation of a deer park, and in 1595, a house was built on the site by the Ford family. Although the present Uppark House was built in 1690-1694 for the Earl of Tankerville, it was Matthew Fetherstonhaugh who redecorated the house extensively from 1750 to 1760 with beautiful Rococo and Neo-classical interiors and introduced most of the existing collection of objects displayed today. Much of the furniture and works of art were assembled on Fetherstonhaugh’s Grand Tour from 1749 to 1751. The house remained largely untouched after the Regency additions until 1989, when it was badly damaged by fire. Fortunately the structure of the state rooms, and most of the contents, were saved, and over the course of 6 years, Uppark was carefully restored. 

The wide-ranging collection at Uppark House includes paintings, furniture, ceramics, and even an eighteenth-century doll house with its original contents. The ground floor rooms are decorated with exquisite French furniture, delicate Dutch ceramics and captivating Italian paintings, offering a beguiling view of eighteenth-century life in a fine country house. The saloon, which was originally the entrance hall, is decorated with two Delft blue and white flower vases with a fanning row of spouts. The flower holders are marked for Adrianus Kocx from De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory, and can be dated to circa 1695.

Displayed in the red drawing room is a large round tiered flower holder standing next to the mantelpiece. This blue and white flower vase, which is almost one meter in height (39 in.), was also produced at De Grieksche A factory during the ownership of Adrianus Kocx. The finely decorated vase has a spectacular size and shape, with handles formed as snakes, a gadrooned foot and numerous spouts at the top. The body of the vase shows putti playing on a seesaw amidst flowering plants with large blossoms, after engravings by Jacques Stella (1596-1657). These three objects have been in the Uppark collection for several generations but were scattered across the house. In 1954, the house passed into the hands of The National Trust, and by the 1960s the four parts of this ceramic grouping were discovered to belong together, forming this extraordinary highlight. 

Uppark House, UK

The Design Museum Danmark is located in the capital city of Copenhagen. Founded in 1890 by the Confederation of Danish Industries and the Ny Carlsberg Museumslegat, the museum opened to the public in 1895. Since its inception, the museum has aimed to elevate quality within design. Through their exhibitions of exemplary objects and collections, the museum seeks to raise the level of Danish industrial products and act as a source of inspiration for people working in the design industry.

The extensive collection includes arts and crafts, and industrial design from throughout the Western world, covering the periods of the late Middle Ages to today. It also comprises East Asian objects, primarily from Japan and China, from prehistoric times until the present. The museum presents an interdisciplinary collection from furniture to silver, fashion, textiles, digital design and ceramics. 

The collection of ceramics is quite unique in terms of its size and representation; it covers all known techniques within the main groups of earthenware, stoneware, tin-glazed earthenware and porcelain as well as new hybrid materials and techniques. The collection illustrates the history of pottery within a very wide geographical area which, besides European and Danish pottery, also includes East Asian pottery. The collection spans an impressively long chronological period stretching from Neolithic Chinese pottery from the third millennium BC to the very latest ceramic experiments by contemporary Danish potters.

There are many Delftware works of art in the collection, from dishes and butter tubs to flower vases and garnitures. The collection encompasses blue and white to polychrome grand feu and petit feu objects. A particularly rare object is a seventeenth century blue and white covered spice bowl, which reflects the new dining culture brought to Europe from other parts of the world through trade. A table set with this type of bowl was considered prestigious, allowing guests to flavor their food with exotic spices. Although the bowl is not marked, it is attributed to De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory because of its similarity to other spice bowls made by the pottery.

Designmuseum Denmark
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